Category Archives: Supplements

The Five Pillars of Health

Being healthy is about more than working out or eating well – it is about balancing what I call “The Five Pillars of Health.”

These five pillars are:

  • Diet
  • Activity
  • Sleep
  • Vitamin D/Sunlight
  • Stress

When you do your best to get the most out of all five pillars, you will be healthy. Ignore one and all of your hard work with the others may go to waste.

Being healthy is all about BALANCE.

Let’s take a look at all five pillars and how they each contribute to us being healthy.

Read the rest of this entry

Whey Protein Powder Recipes

A week or so ago I wrote a post about a great protein shake I made. I mentioned in that post that while I prefer to mainly eat whole natural foods, protein, and even BCAAs for that matter, can be useful tools to maintain a healthy diet when you are busy and on the go.

But while I believe in using protein for snacks and even the occasional meal replacement, I don’t believe in making protein snacks that have a bazillion ingredients in them.

I’m sorry…protein “fudge” with almond flour, honey (or other sweeteners) just isn’t healthy any more. Nuts have phytic acid in them and should only be consumed in moderation not as flours where you can end up consuming double or even triple the proper serving size.

Anyway, I do like certain whey protein powder recipes…simple ones…like certain protein pancakes. I use an egg…maybe a little raw milk, protein and water. I usually cook in coconut oil and may add a coconut butter or the occasional teaspoon of almond butter if we even have it around.

I try to keep it as natural and whole foods-y as possible. Because let’s face it…Nothing is as good as whole foods for you.

However, if you are on the run, here are a few good protein powders and the pancake recipes I used them with. I got the protein powders from BestPriceNutrition.com.

They sent me samples to try as I’m a creature of habit and otherwise just get the Gold Standard whey every time. They also sent me a couple BCAA packets to try.

Branch chain amino acids are the building blocks of protein.

If you do any sort of Intermittent Fasting, BCAAs can be a great thing to take before your workout. Lean Gains talks about BCAAs in his IF diet. I do like BCAAs and highly recommend them if you are lifting heavy and doing IF although I’m a bigger fan of the unflavored ones than the watermelon Metabolic Nutrition one that Best Price Nutrition sent me.

It tasted great…But again, I’m all about less crap and more natural even if it doesn’t taste as good.

Anyway, the whey protein powder pancake recipes!

Banana Creme Pancakes

I’ve never had a banana protein powder before. I usually keep it simple as the stranger protein flavors generally taste chemically.

This protein, however, tasted amazing and I loved that it was low carb. It wasn’t at all chemically, but did have a few more ingredients in it than I would have liked.

For me, the protein itself tasted delicious enough that I could make my super quick version of the pancakes. Tasted like banana pancakes although a bit more dense just because I only included two ingredients. You could add some baking soda if you really wanted them fluffier. But for something you can cook quickly and throw in a bag and eat cold whenever you need it later, these were delicious.

banana protein pancakes

Ingredients:
1 Scoop ProtiZyme Banana Creme
Water

I mixed water and the protein powder to a desired thickness. I don’t like mine too watery so it was only a tbsp or two of water.

Heat a skillet with a tsp of coconut oil. Cook pancakes on medium/low heat for a minute or two each side.

Eat hot or let cool and save for later!

The best protein and water pancakes. Quick, easy and simple! Tasted great although a bit dense in texture, which may bother some people.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Pancakes

The Peanut Butter Allmax IsoFlex protein was probably the best protein I’ve ever tasted AND it was an isolate, which is saying a lot. (Here is a great post by Mark’s Daily Apple about the difference between concentrate and isolate).

However, it did have peanuts and a few more ingredients than I would like in it so I will probably not get it again. But if you eat peanuts and love peanut butter, I would suggest you try this protein. (I may give another flavor a shot though as they have a variety!)

protein pancake recipe

Ingredients:
1 egg
1 scoop protein powder
1 tbsp raw milk
Water to taste

Mix egg, protein, milk and water to desired consistency. Cook with 1 tsp coconut oil over medium/low heat. Cook about 1-2 minutes per side.

Seriously probably the most delicious protein pancakes EVER, but Reese’s are one of my favorite cheat day treats!

What is your favorite protein powder? Do you make any protein powder recipes?

NOTE: Best Price Nutrition did send me products for free to review. My review is brutally honestly and if you have any further questions about the products or supplements in general, let me know by email at manbiceps@gmail.com.

Coconut Oil – Good for Girly Girls and Tom Boys

So this weekend Ryan and I were out in Palm Springs with our parents trying to finish up wedding planning.

During the weekend, my mom and I went to a make-up artist since I thought it would be fun to have someone do my make-up for the wedding.

I was trying to explain to the guy that I never put on make-up but wanted something not too light. We then also somehow started talking about the fact that I work as a personal trainer.

He put the two together and then at some point mentioned that I was a “tom boy.”

I didn’t say anything, but I sort of thought…”Well not really…I like wearing heels and getting dressed up even if I do like working up a sweat and wearing loose t-shirts and picking up really heavy things.”

He then made another comment that I most definitely wasn’t a “girly girl.”

I guess so…But I mean what does that even really mean? Just because I’m an idiot when it comes to make-up I’m not girly? I’m a “tom boy?”

I wasn’t offended by his comments…I long ago stopped trying to be what I wasn’t. I’m a girl who enjoys sports and sweating and calluses (that’s right…no gloves for me…), but I’m also a girl who likes dresses, high heels and make-up (on occasion…when I feel like it…And am not too frustrated to do numerous applications).

I’m not a girly girl or a tom boy…I’m just a girl…I’m just a girl who is really stupid when it comes to make-up.

That’s it.

It has nothing to do with being feminine.

Anyway, he did tell me during our meeting that I needed to exfoliate and moisturize and that I had like “years” of built up dry skin on my face.

I’ll admit, I’m awful when it comes to that stuff. There are really no frills when I wash.

BUT I do want to feel amazing on my wedding day, so I was willing to do whatever he said to make my skin hold the make-up better.

And I was happily surprised when he told me I didn’t need to go out and get a ton of creams to exfoliate.

Instead he told me I could make one with two ingredients at home…coconut oil and sea salt.

coconut oil

Multi-purpose coconut oil!

YES!

Seriously coconut oil is a cure-all. It is good for you inside and out. Here is a link with two articles about the benefits of coconuts and one is even by Dr. Oz!

I mean of course I eat coconut flakes/milk/oil for internal health benefits – all that GOOD FAT! But I’ve also used coconut oil to prevent sunburns. To help heal sunburns. To treat Ryan’s dandruff (sorry Ryan).

And now, I can even use it to exfoliate!

I don’t need to go to a stupid drug or make-up store and stare at all the freaking different exfoliating options! I don’t need to spend 50 bucks on a tub of cream so small it last through only two uses.

I can simply use something natural that I always have at home!

Coconut oil…I love you!

What other ailments have you found that coconut helps with? Do you use it to exfoliate?

When was the last time you were called a “girly girl” or “tom boy” and thought to yourself…”HMMM…Are those really our only two options!?!”

Vitamin D – Is a Supplement Enough?

Vitamin D has gotten a lot more publicity in recent years as a MUST TAKE supplement.

It is key for mineral absorption, especially the absorption of Calcium, which means strong bones!

Research has also shown that Vitamin D may help protect us against osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cancer and a few autoimmune diseases.

The vitamin plays a huge role in cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function and the reduction of inflammation (which means less risk for disease and better overall health!).

So because we’ve discovered how incredibly important Vitamin D is to our health (and the fact that most of the population is DEFICIENT in it), everyone and their mother’s uncle recommends that you take a supplement to get enough.

But is that supplement really as good as natural sources?

Even the bottle boosts its health benefits.

Even the bottle boosts its health benefits.

Yes and no….boy I bet you love that answer!

Yes because it is Vitamin D that our body can use. It is the vitamin that we need and we can get it in the doses that we need. And the supplement does work as well as the natural source.

But a slightly bigger NO not because of the supplement itself, but because of what it means if you actually NEED the supplement.

We should get Vitamin D from foods, such as fish and eggs, and from sunlight.

We should be eating enough whole natural foods and getting in enough outdoors time that we get plenty of sun (it really only takes 20-30 minutes).

For many of us though this isn’t as easy as it would seem. So we turn to a supplement.

Which if we are trying to eat well and be active, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I know in Boston it was SUPER HARD to get in a proper allotment of sun each day. BUT I still ate super clean and did what I could do get outside when I could.

So to make sure I got enough Vitamin D, I took a supplement.

BUT I didn’t use a supplement to excuse a bad diet and inactivity.

Let’s face it…If you eat crap, don’t go outside and have fun and be active, then you aren’t going to be healthy no matter how many supplements you take.

So yes…a supplement can be great if you have a healthy base and really try to get as much natural Vitamin D as you can, BUT no it isn’t good if you supplement while still living the same crappy lifestyle.

Because honestly….there is so much more than Vitamin D that you are missing out on if you eat crap, are inactive and never go outside and play!

I mean think about it…If you are eating crap food, not only are you not getting enough Vitamin D, as well as other essential vitamins and minerals, but you are also getting a TON of bad for you, inflammation causing crap like vegetable oils and added sugars.

And if you aren’t going out in the sun every day not only aren’t you getting Vitamin D, but you aren’t getting a lot of the benefits that usually go along with an active outdoor lifestyle.

Let’s face it…people who usually get out in the sun every day are the same people who are more active and an active lifestyle has health benefits like improving your cardiovascular health and bone density.

On top of that, being out in the sun can really really improve your mood.

Stressed? In a bad mood?

Maybe getting a bit more outdoor time is the answer.

So to sum all of this up…YES a supplement can be a very good way to help you get adequate amounts of Vitamin D, but NO it is not a magic pill.

If you want to be truly healthy, you need to do all that you can to get Vitamin D from natural sources – healthy food and sunlight.

Vitamin D supplementation is something that you turn to only when you can’t hit the required amount while doing your best to live a healthy lifestyle.

Macro THEN Micro-Managing

Today I saw a guy in about his early 60s walk out of 24 Hour Fitness. He had a beer belly hanging out from beneath his nice tight spandex Nike shirt.

And while this picture made me shake my head what made my jaw drop was the fact that this overweight guy, with relatively little muscle, in his 60s was carrying a huge jar of N.O.-Xplode in his hand.

N.O.-Xplode is a nitric oxide booster and dilates your blood vessels to supposedly help deliver all of the extra CRAP the supplement has in it to your tissues quicker.

Some people say it enhances their workouts. Others just feel ill from the rapid heart beat that can follow a dose of N.O.-Xplode.

Really though it is one of those supplements that the average Joe shouldn’t even be worrying about. (I mean I don’t think even the fitness models and athletes should take it, but that is a totally different discussion).

But that is what average people do. They buy supplements and diet stuff that the super in shape models use instead of working on their base program first.

They overcomplicate things instead of focusing on a few solid basics.

This 60-year-old man didn’t need a diet supplement. He needed a new workout program and a solid diet of whole, natural foods.

But the diet supplement was a simpler solution. An easier solution.

One that won’t work.

He is focusing on micromanaging his diet. Supplements are for those people who have a solid diet and workout program and may be looking to get off that last 1% of body fat (of course I don’t think even these people need them, BUT if anyone does they do).

Everyone besides these fitness models and elite athletes shouldn’t even go near any supplements. First, they need to focus on the macronutrient proportions in their diets. They need to focus on eating only nutrient dense carbs, whole, natural sources of protein and lots of good fat. WHOLE NATURAL FOODS!

Build a solid base and then once you have seen results from that, then start getting closer to micro-managing every last thing.

Because if you don’t, you’ll be that 60-year-old man walking out of the gym with your belly hanging out and the latest supplement in your hand.

And in three years, if he hasn’t given up by then, he will be three years older and still walking out of 24 Hour Fitness with the newest supplement. His beer belly still hanging out from below his tight Nike spandex shirt.

Suckers for a “Quick Fix”

DISCLAIMER: This post is kind of mean.

Seriously sometimes people are pathetic.

Dr. Oz calls Raspberry Ketones a fat-buster and “the number one miracle in a bottle” on his show and suddenly everyone goes out and buys them.

We are suckers for a quick fix. People go out and buy it because Dr. Oz says it works “miracles.”

Here's a quick fix for you...

They don’t even care that there are really no scientific studies substantiating this claim!

When I searched for studies this is basically what I came up with...

And here is a quote from the ABC News article linked above:

For now, the reputations of products like Raspberry Ketone Plus and Raspberry Ketone Ultra rest on anecdotes and two studies conducted on mice put on a high-fat diet. Japanese researchers reported in 2005 that raspberry ketone “prevents and improves obesity and fatty liver,” by boosting the breakup of fat cells. Korean researchers reported in 2010 that raspberry ketone increased fat cells’ secretion of a hormone called adiponectin that regulates the processing of sugars and fats in the blood.

Dr. Robert H. Lustig , a neuroendocrinologist and UC San Francisco pediatrics professor who is among top experts in the nation’s obesity epidemic, said that animal studies alone are insufficient for scientists to say how raspberry ketones work in people.

“Until there are human studies I won’t weigh in,” he said.

“People are willing to take chances. It’s amazing how many people look for a miracle instead of looking at what they’re eating and how much they’re moving and fixing whatever is broken,” said Mary Hartley, a registered dietitian and clinical nutritionist in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Who cares about studies though!?! I mean Dr. Oz says it works. And so does some trainer with a line of supplements, which includes raspberry ketones! I mean she wouldn’t just be promoting a product to make money, would she?

GEEZ! Seriously people!

You’d think by now people would be smart enough to resist the temptation of a “quick fix.”

But nope! Who wants to work hard!?!

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

While I’ll pass on the green beer, I will indulge in some not-so-Irish Coffee, Organic Cider and delicious Man Bicep dishes!

After surviving the Filthy 50 this morning, Ryan and I came back and made some breakfast – Corned Beef Hash and a not so Irish Coffee.

Corned Beef Hash

Ingredients:

1/2 lbs Corned Beef (cooked in the slow cooker the day before)
1 potato
1 onion
2 tbsp The Meat House Duck Fat
Garlic to taste
3 eggs

Heat duck fat in a pan with garlic and add in the diced potatoes and chopped onion. Once the potatoes start to brown, add in chopped up corned beef. Once potatoes are a golden brown and the corned beef is hot, divide onto plates. Cook eggs in butter till over easy. Top the hash with eggs and serve!

Man Bicep not-so-Irish Coffee

Ingredients:

Freshly brewed fair-trade organic coffee
1 tbsp Godiva liqueur
1 spoonful homemade whipped cream (Recipe here. I left out the chocolate this week)

Poor a cup of freshly brewed coffee and add in Godiva liqueur. Top with a spoonful of the whipped cream.

With breakfast we also had a “food experiment.” I made protein pancakes, which actually were delicious especially when topped with a spoonful of the whipped cream!

Protein Pancakes

Ingredients:

2 eggs
2 tbsp unsalted Almond butter
1/2 scoop of Optimum Double Rich Chocolate Whey Protein
1 tbsp of Coconut oil (courtesy of Trader Joes)

Beat eggs, almond butter and whey protein together until completely combined. Heat coconut oil in skillet. When coconut oil is hot, scoop batter onto heat (With the measurements above, you can make two decent sized pancakes.) Flip when bottom starts to become golden.

If heat is hot, it takes only about a minute or two on each side. Be careful – It is easy to over-cook these. When both sides are just lightly golden, remove from heat and serve.

We topped with a bit of whipped cream but a berry compote would also be delicious on top.

These “pancakes” were easy to make and could be refrigerated and eaten throughout the week as a quick breakfast option!

Ok…more recipes to come as we enjoy a relaxing St. Patty’s day watching some March Madness! Anyone else an addict?

Interesting stuff from this week

  • My post on Thursday had to do with the lingering belief that women aren’t men’s equals in the sports and exercise arena. Fit and Feminist also had a post concerning a similar issue, which I thought was interesting. It seems that strong, competitive, athletic women still aren’t full accepted by society. Instead society keeps trying to make these women more acceptable by imposing rules to make them more feminine. What do you think?
  • So I made a couple interesting food discoveries this week. I found wild boar salami!!!! Nitrite free wild boar salami!!! IT IS AMAZING! Thank you Meat House! Also, Trader Joe’s had an aged raw goat’s milk pecorino romano. YUM!!! Nice and salty and delicious. And the best part is…it’s raw milk!
  • I also have two delicious recipes I want to share. One is for a Primal cheat day – chocolate macadamia nut bark with sea salt. I didn’t follow Mark’s recipe, but he did give me the idea!

  • The second is a protein shake, which is absolutely delicious! It is Trader Joe’s light coconut milk, coconut oil (for some good healthy fats), chocolate protein and water! If you like the taste of chocolate and coconut together, you will LOVE this protein shake! AND the coconut milk makes it nice and creamy and thick! Plus not only are you getting some protein out of this shake, but also all of the health benefits of coconut.
  • Ok…”all natural” as a label on food means absolutely nothing. There is this new diet aid, called Proasis, which is essentially a protein and vitamin shot that they state is “all natural.” They claim it helps a dieter get all the vitamins, minerals and protein that they won’t get on a diet for weight loss. For one, how can a protein shake, fortified by vitamins be “all natural?” Two, if you do the RIGHT diet to lose weight, you will get plenty of vitamins and minerals and protein! Uhm, Paleo/Primal anyone!?!
  • There is a children’s book now for “Paleo” children!! The book is called “Paleo Pals” and helps parents get their children excited about Paleo eating! Really neat! I love how much of a “culture” Primal and Paleo have become!
  • One last thing…have you ever noticed that when one thing in your life is going right, you feel so much better about everything else? I have!! So I’ve made it through three weeks of this new diet, which is a strict version of Primal and I’ve started to look and feel great! It’s amazing how looking and feeling great gives you so much more confidence in every aspect of your life. You know the saying, “When it rains, it pours?” Well I guess the opposite can be true! When you have confidence in one part of your life and are happy, the happiness and confidence can really spread to other portions of your life!

Also, I’ve created a “Question Submission” page. I’ve already gotten a few questions, which I will address tomorrow in a post. Thank you for the submissions and keep them coming!

New PRs, Supplements and Water Weight

So yesterday I started a new cycle of creatine AND I hit a new PR on deadlift! So did Candy! YAY! 🙂

Of course, along with the new PR came about 2 pounds of water weight. haha

While I do think creatine is the reason for the weight gain, I don’t really think the creatine had any influence on yesterday’s lift since I just started it again. BUT hopefully it will help me gain a bit more strength over the next couple of weeks!

I like creatine…it is worth spending a bit of extra cash on…every once in a while.

BUT what is worth spending money on CONSTANTLY is glucosamine/chondroitin. I started having a bit of knee pain from all the spin I’d been teaching (along with all the super heavy lifting) so I decided it was time to give a joint health supplement a shot.

A glucosamine supplement should improve your joint health since glucosamine is a precursor for glycosaminoglycans, and glycosaminoglycans are a major component of joint cartilage. SO supplemental glucosamine may help to prevent cartilage degeneration and treat arthritis!

And let me tell you something amazing about the glucosamine/chondroitin supplement I took…I haven’t had ANY…I repeat ANY knee pain since!

YES!

So if you have some knee problems, give a glucosamine chondroitin supplement a shot. It isn’t a miracle pill but it DEFINITELY helped me!

Also, here is our wonderful workout from yesterday!

Deadlifts 3-2-2-1-1

Barbell RDLs paired with Inverted Row

Walking lunges paired with Lat pushdowns

Leg Extension paired with High Row Machine

Leg Curl paired with Upright Rows

Almost there!…

There is nothing more motivating or more frustrating than ALMOST hitting a new personal record.

Another name for Hulk is Brian

This morning we did our deadlift workout and Candy and I both ALMOST hit new PRs. My grip went. She couldn’t lock out. But we kept trying until we pretty much couldn’t even pick the bar up off the floor.

We kept trying because we were just so close! The weight was moving…It just wouldn’t go all the way up!

We just kept hoping that the next time might be better. And the 2nd try was better than the first…but by the 4th…well…we were out of juice.

But next Monday, I think we will both hit new PRs!!  Brian is very positive that we will (Brian actually hit a new high himself today and I’m a bit jealous! ;-)). While it was frustrating we didn’t get new PRs today, the positive side is we haven’t hit a plateau! We are still getting stronger! 🙂

Which got me to thinking about this past Creatine and protein powder cycle. Was it making a difference?

Uhm…I have no idea. A week into this cycle, I would have screamed out “YES!!!” My deadlift and bench PRs both went up by about 10lbs after holding steady for the past month. But since then…I haven’t really seen any gains more than what I’ve been used to. A pound here and there, but nothing impressive.

So has the creatine and protein powder worked so far? Possibly.

Neither have turned me into hulk, but then again I didn’t expect them to. Neither is a magic pill that will instantly make you stronger, and I haven’t lost strength or plateaued this month so I guess they  have done their jobs.

AND there haven’t really been any negative side effects. I haven’t really suffered much water bloat. At most a pound or two.

So if I haven’t really suffered much bloat or any other side effects AND I’ve made strength gains, I see no reason not to keep up the creatine cycling. After this week, I will take a few weeks off before going on one last cycle before the competition.

So women…I can guarantee that Creatine and protein powder won’t turn you into Hulk.

I’ll keep you posted though as I try another cycle or two!!

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